How To Paint Animals: Painting By Numbers Tips & Tricks

Painting animals is about capturing life. Inquisitive eyes, glossy fur, swishing tails; it can all be captured beautifully in paint if you know how, especially with a little numerical help. If you’re struggling to learn how to paint animals then painting by numbers is the friend you never knew you had, and we’re here to help you get to paint animals with numbersLet’s start by first dispelling three common myths about painting by numbers:

It’s for kids – Absolutely not. Painting by numbers kits do exist for kids, but there’s a huge range of more complex masterpieces especially for adults to enjoy, and painting by numbers is a highly popular adults’ art discipline.

It’s just big blocks of colour – Far from it. While simpler designs with larger shapes do exist, most animal paint by numbers kits and other designs give much greater detail and allow you to create masterpieces that look just like they were painted freehand.

It’s cheating! – Good gracious, no! Painting by numbers still takes discipline, practice and skill to achieve the best results; you can’t just breeze through it.

Animal Paint By Numbers

Capturing living creatures in paint can be tricky, particularly when it comes to faces and body proportions. Mastering the texture of fur, feathers and hair is also tough for anyone relatively new to painting. If these are your biggest challenges then you’ve come to the right place;  animal paint by numbers helps you gradually learn how to master all of these effects and finetune your technique until you’re ready to graduate to freehand animal painting.

How to Paint Animals by Numbers: Tips & Tricks

Get your kit


First thing’s first, you’ll need to pick your animal paint by numbers kit. Paint by numbers animals projects come in all sizes from small boards to extra large, with a huge range of domestic and wild animal designs to choose from. Pick your favourite design and familiarise yourself with everything in the kit. Most painting by numbers kits come with paint brushes, the art board and all the paints required, so all you’ll need is some water and something to protect your clothing and surfaces.

how to paint animals by numbers

Extra Tip: Make sure your work area is brightly lit from multiple angles to minimise shadows and eye strain. A magnifying glass is also very handy for painting the really tiny bits.

Paint the largest areas first

Some advice recommends starting with the smallest areas first, but starting with the larger has one key benefit; you won’t have to spend quite so much time washing brushes between colours.

Work from top to bottom

This is important to minimise the risk of smudging your work as you go along, and the methodical direction also helps make sure you don’t miss any numbers.

Go from dark to light, or vice versa

Don’t feel like you have to work in numerical order. Try working instead from the darkest colours to the lightest colours, or the other way around. This will force you to consider the colours themselves and how they work together, how they layer up and how they interact – an important skill in freehand painting.

Use toothpicks

Toothpicks are nifty little tools for animal painting by numbers. For starters they’re very useful for mixing and blending your paint colours, but more than that they are great for adding detail. The fine points make filling very tiny areas much easier and more controlled than even the finest brush, and they’re ideal for creating fine line detailing like fur, hair or whiskers.

Break the rules

The best way to learn how to paint animals is to experiment. Just because the numbers or instructions don’t tell you to do something doesn’t mean you can’t do it. Play around with layering and blending colours, shadows, highlights and tones to add extra depth and custom detail to your paint by numbers animals. That way, the piece of art you come out with will be unique and truly yours.

Ready to start learning how to paint animals? We have an entire menagerie of stunning animal paint by numbers kits for you to flood with colour and bring to life here at Crafty Arts. Pick your new projects and don’t forget to show us the results over on our Instagram page. 

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